Union Leaders Spotlight on Dr. Roger H. Sublett

Dr. Roger H. Sublett

Q. What is your favorite memory of your time with Union?

A. I have always enjoyed Union’s commencements and the opportunity to celebrate with our students and their families as our students fulfill a lifelong dream of completing a college degree. Union has always done commencements well, and I hope that tradition continues in the coming years.

Three commencements stand out to me: 1) the year David Gergen spoke and received an honorary doctorate from Union; 2) the year Connie Silver spoke and imitated a bird flapping its wings from the stage; 3) the year General Jeff Foley spoke to our students sharing both humorous and serious leadership experiences and received an honorary doctorate from Union.

Q. Can you share a humorous memory?

A. Staying with the theme of commencement, despite intense and involved training sessions, the doctoral hooding talents of Richard Green and Arlene Sacks at Union’s national commencements, while probably not funny to the graduates, were comical to those of us on stage and in the audience. The good news is that we never lost any of the graduates, but there were moments of doubt!

Q. What has been the biggest challenge of being president of Union?

A. The transformation of the Ph.D. program early in my tenure when Union was undergoing evaluation by the Ohio Board of Regents, the Higher Learning Commission, and the U.S. Department of Education presented the greatest challenge. However, we met all of those challenges, redesigned the doctoral program, balanced the budgets and moved Union forward in positive ways, while also enhancing the academic reputation of the university in the process.

Q. What would you like people to know about you that they might not know?

A. In addition to my leadership work, reading and writing, I am a bit of a frustrated artist and will take up painting again, along with photography, when I transition from Union. I have also started two children’s books about the pets we have had over the years. I hope to complete these books soon in honor of our three grandsons, Adam, Evan, and Owen.

Q. What is your favorite book?

A. I am an avid reader, so this is a hard question for me; however, today I would say it is Robert Lawrence Smith’s “A Quaker Book of Wisdom: Life Lessons in Simplicity, Service, and Common Sense”. This is a book that inspires the reader with its simple approach to life’s challenges. It offers insight about life’s lessons while emphasizing our “common humanity-goodness, courage, common sense, reflection, wonder, patience, and understanding-to what the Greek philosopher Plato called “our mysterious preference for the best.” I return to this book frequently for inspiration and reflection when I have had a tough day or a tough week. While it is not considered scholarly, it is a book that impacts all who read it and is filled with words and lessons of wisdom as the title indicates.

Q. What is your proudest moment at Union?

A. There are many, but a memorable moment came in 2005 when Union achieved closure with the Ohio Board of Regents, the U.S. Department of Education and the Higher Learning Commission. I knew at that time that while Union still had significant challenges ahead, the university would survive and thrive in the coming years because we had successfully addressed all of the external challenges and we were masters of our own fate. I remain very proud of the team of individuals from across the university who worked hard together to overcome those challenges, thus preserving the great legacy of this unique institution. As a part of that moment, the 50th anniversary was the culmination of our efforts and what a great celebration it was in 2014!

I have also always been proud of Union’s commitment to our students in fulfilling our mission of social justice, social responsibility, and community connectedness. It is a unique mission, and one which places Union in the forefront of higher education in preparing leaders for the realities of today’s world. That moment in 2005 assured that Union would continue to exist as a unique leader among higher education institutions.